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Offered for sale is an original 1938 document, signed by



            SS-Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke (29 July 1913 – 11 October 2013) was a German mid-level SS commander in the SS police force (SiPo) of Nazi Germany. In 1996, he was convicted of war crimes in Italy, for commanding the unit which was responsible for the Ardeatine massacre in Rome on 24 March 1944 in which 335 Italian civilians were killed in retaliation for a partisan attack that killed 33 men of the German SS Police Regiment Bozen.  Priebke was one of the men held responsible for this mass execution. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, he fled to Argentina, where he lived for almost 50 years.

In 1991, Priebke’s participation in the Rome massacre was denounced in Esteban Buch’s book El pintor de la Suiza Argentina.  In 1994, 50 years after the massacre, Priebke felt he could then talk about the incident and was interviewed by American ABC News reporter Sam Donaldson. This caused outrage among people who had not forgotten the incident and led to his extradition to Italy and a trial which lasted more than four years. The massacre of Fosse Ardeatine took place in Italy during World War II. On 23 March 1944, 33 German personnel of the SS Police Regiment Bozen were killed when the Italian Resistance set off a bomb and attacked the SS men with firearms and grenades while they were marching along Via Rasella in Rome. This attack was led by the Patriotic Action Groups or Gruppi di Azione Patriottica (GAP).

Adolf Hitler is reported, but never confirmed, to have ordered that within 24 hours, ten condemned Italians were to be shot for each dead German. Commander Kappler in Rome quickly compiled a list of 320 prisoners to be killed. Kappler voluntarily added ten more names to the list when the 33rd German died after the partisan attack. The total number of people executed at the Fosse Ardeatine was 335, mostly Italian. The largest cohesive group among those executed were the members of Bandiera Rossa (Red Flag), a dissident-communist military resistance group, along with more than 70 Jews. On 24 March, led by SS officers Priebke and Karl Hass, the victims were killed inside the Ardeatine caves in groups of five. They were led into the caves with their hands tied behind their backs and then shot in the neck. Many were forced to kneel down over the bodies of those who had already been killed. During the killings, it was found that a mistake had been made and that five additional people who were not on the “ten to one” list had been brought up to the caves. Priebke was responsible for the list and his complicity in those 5 additional killings ruled out any possible justification for his behavior on the basis of “obedience to official orders.”  As a result, Priebke’s trial strongly focused on these extra killings.

To fill the numerical quota, many of the prisoners at Via Tasso and Regina Coeli prison who happened to be available at the time were sent to their deaths by the Nazis at the Fosse Ardeatine. Priebke put some on the list simply because they were Jewish (sending Jews to the camps, however, he said he had never done, for practical reasons: “We needed the railway cars for other things”).

In post–World War II trials, Priebke was set to be tried for his role in the massacre, but he managed to escape from a British prison camp in Rimini, Italy in 1946. He later claimed that this escape had been assisted by a ratline run by German-Austrian Bishop Alois Hudal. After he had escaped, he lived with his family in Sterzing/Vipiteno. During this time he received on 13 September 1948 a second baptism (and adopted a new identity as Otto Pape) by a local priest.  After his time in South Tirol, he went to Argentina. Though alleged to have been responsible for war crimes, Priebke lived in Argentina as a free man for 50 years. In 1996 he was extradited to Italy. In court, Priebke declared himself not guilty. He did not deny what he had done, but he denied any moral responsibility. He blamed the massacre on those whom he branded as “the Italian terrorists” who were behind the attack in which 33 German SS men were killed. The order came directly from Hitler, and he thought it was a legitimate punishment. During the trial it became clear that Priebke had personally shot two Italians. This was also in his testimony from 1946 before he managed to escape. Priebke was found not guilty for the reason of acting under orders. On 1 August 1996, orders were given for the immediate release of Priebke. Germany then demanded his extradition, but Italy denied, and Priebke died a free man in Rome on 11 October 2013, at the age of 100, from natural causes. [source: Wikipedia]

Anything signed by Erich Priebke before May 1945 is as rare as it gets. The document that is offered for sale is dated 15 June 1938. Priebke’s rank at the time was SS-Scharführer and he was already working for the SD / Gestapo. He notifies the Gestapo Office Berlin about his marriage to Alice Stoll on the very same day they got married and confirms that with his signature in ink. The document has a small and hardly unnoticeable tear on the bottom right.

The document ships from one of our affiliates in Germany. It comes from a private collection and has never been offered for sale before. It was purchased directly out of a German foundation. The seller gives a full money back guarantee for the authenticity of the documents and signature. Includes shipping worldwide.


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